Forever Farms” is a way to celebrate the growing success of farmland protection efforts in Maine. Over the next several months, signs that read “Forever Farm” will be installed on farmland in Maine that has been preserved through agricultural easements. Agricultural easements ensure that the land will forever be available for farming. Through this signage, a new website, and events, MFT and its partner organizations will raise public awareness about what we’ve already achieved in Maine, while generating excitement for future farmland preservation. We hope to see you at an upcoming Forever Farm event in your area!
Thursday, August 18th Erickson Farm in Rockport
Tuesday, August 23rd Horsepower Farm in Penobscot
Tuesday, August 30th Kelley Farm in Bowdoinham
Thursday, Sept. 8th Broadturn Farm in Scarborough
Tuesday, Sept. 13th Katherine Breton Memorial Preserve in Lisbon
All events will be held from 5 to 8PM
Each event will include Tide Mill’s organic grilled chicken, prepared local produce, wine from Bartlett Maine Estate Winery of Gouldsboro, beer from Andrew’s Brewery of Lincolnville, and ice cream treats provided by Dolcelino’s of Camden. Farm tours will be available in addition to live music.
Visit www.foreverfarms.org for more information about the Forever Farms program!
Contact: Eileen Mielenhausen, (207) 374-5118 or Richard Boulet, (207) 374-5515
Where: Blue Hill Public Library
When: Thursday, March 21st, 7:00 PM
Cost: Admission is Free
Calendar listing: IS FARMING THE KEY TO MAINE’S FUTURE?: talk and discussion with John Piotti, Maine Farmland Trust, Thurs. Mar. 21, 7:00 pm, Blue Hill Public Library. Info: 374-5515.
Join Maine Farmland Trust’s Executive Director, John Piotti, for a lively presentation and discussion about the state of farming and how—if we are smart about it—farming can become the centerpiece of a sustainable future for Maine.
Piotti will present “The Future of Farming and Value of Protecting Farmland” on Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Howard Room of the Blue Hill Public Library. This talk is co-sponsored by the library and Blue Hill Heritage Trust and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Karen Wyatt at the library, 374-5155 ext. 10.
John Piotti has been at the fore of agriculture issues in Maine for over 17 years. In 1995, he created and then managed the Maine Farms Project for Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI). He participated in the Millennium Commission on Hunger & Food Security, Maine’s Farm Vitality Task Force, and the Governor’s Dairy Task Force. He also served in the Maine Legislature, where he chaired the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. Beyond Maine, he has served as chair of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) and a director of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. In 2005, John was one of only eight Americans awarded a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship; he studied European models that use agriculture to advance sustainable community development.
Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide nonprofit devoted to farmland protection. Its budget is primarily funded by individual donors and members. For more information, visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org.
Blue Hill Heritage Trust (BHHT) has helped conserve over 2,000 acres of farmland on the peninsula, including 18 agricultural easements. BHHT is a community-based, membership-supported, accredited nonprofit land conservation organization founded by local residents in 1985 to help conserve land resources on the Blue Hill Peninsula that have special scenic, recreational, ecological, agricultural or cultural significance. For more information about the Trust, stop by their office at 258 Mountain Road, Blue Hill, call 374-5118, or visit www.bluehillheritagetrust.org.
Now that Maine Fare is over, we can take some time to reflect on the event. With two full days of market bustle, back-to-back cooking demonstrations, classes, speakers, and tastings, we hoped there would something for everyone to experience and enjoy, but we also wanted participants to take something home with them—knowledge about a specific kind of food, the inspiration to eat more locally-grown and harvested food, or perhaps a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges in our state and regional food system. All in all, we think it was a really great weekend, full of good food and food for thought! Thanks for joining us!
–Alex, Ellen, and the Maine Fare team
Maine Fare 2014
There was good food. There was food for thought. At the biggest, most democratic Maine Fare yet, sixteen hundred people came together at the Belfast waterfront to eat Maine food and tackle the tough issues in the future of our food system.
We tasted kale pesto, scallops, and rye flour brownies, chopped veggies to stuff into jars and ferment, and met folks working to relieve hunger from across the state. Paul Greenberg even read a selection from a pre-sale (contraband) copy of his newest book, American Catch. It was a fun and celebratory two days, and also a platform for discussing and changing the way we eat from sea to land in Maine.
The festivities started bright and early Friday morning with a tour of the Troy Howard Middle School Garden. Students at the school are entirely responsible for growing, selling, donating, cooking and eating their wonderful food. Maine Fare highlighted opportunities for families and schoolchildren to get hands-on with their food systems because engaged kids who have positive food experiences will make better food choices in the future.[pullquote align=”right”]“There’s a great opportunity for more farming, for more food processing, and other jobs. This is smart economic development,” says John Piotti, President and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust. See the full article from FOX Bangor here.[/pullquote]
But the future depends on the steps we take now, as expressed by Brian Donahue and Molly Anderson, two of the New England Food Vision authors who hosted the Maine launch on Friday at Maine Fare. The report identifies opportunities for New England to produce half of its own food by 2060. Robin Alden, Executive Director of Penobscot East Resource Center and John Piotti, President and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust, examined the Food Vision’s application in Maine and the actions we need to take to make the future we want, a reality.
At noon the Boathouse seats filled to hear keynote speakers Paul Greenberg and Barton Seaver. Paul, an author and fisherman and Barton, a former chef and sustainable food systems activist, shared with us their knowledge and insight about how to move towards a more sustainable food system – one that sustains our communities, farmers, and fisherman as well as our resources.
While some folks spent the afternoon bringing seafood and agriculture to the same conversation, some folks spent it bringing local seafood and agriculture to the same table with the entertaining and talented Chef Kerry Altiero of Café Miranda and Headacre Farm in Rockland. A free demonstration at the Main Stage tent, everyone enjoyed Chef Altiero’s conversation about the importance of protecting farmland, supporting local people, and enjoying the culinary experiences unique to Maine. He passed around samples of his “Maine Wedding Special”, a festive paella with roasted lobster and a pile of mussels. Want a taste? Visit Café Miranda in Rockland and pick up the recipe in Chef Altiero’s upcoming book, Adventures in Comfort Food, due out October 2014.
Lobster isn’t the only thing to taste in Maine! Maine is an incredibly abundant and diverse place. Apples share a rich history in the state, and who knew there were so many kinds and distinct flavors. Of course, apples with distinct flavors make distinct ciders. John Bunker led a talk with apple growers and cider makers that led into a phenomenal tasting of Maine ciders, poured with cider-makers, and paired with local cheeses by Belfast’s own specialty cheese store, Eat More Cheese.
The evening ended as all the best festivals do – with music! Portland-based Olas took the stage with their strings and dancers. We danced, watched, drank local beer from Marshall Wharf, and ate local dinners from food trucks. An entire day of local food, and Maine Fare was only halfway through!
The Open Air Market was abuzz with conversation again on Saturday. Farmers, grain grinders, sea harvesters, cheese-makers, poultry-raisers, bakers, herbalists, artists, fiber-makers, coffee roasters, and others displayed the diversity of products Maine grows and produces. Customers were full of questions and eager to learn about products such as maple-flavored mushrooms.
But we wanted to get even more hands-on than talking and tasting. We wanted to make it ourselves. So Jean Koons of Kennebec Cheesery and board member of the Maine Cheese Guild taught us some basic cheese-making techniques to use at home in the Queso Rexo DIY Class. Cheese-making is precise business so class attendees huddled around the milk pot and measured amounts of rennet and acid while Jean walked us through making curds.
We’ve already mentioned apples, cheese, and shellfish; foods with long histories and rich presence in Maine. Like a teatime chat, food historians Sandy Oliver and Kerry Hardy took us down the traditional foodways of Maine. They shared stories and samples of indigenous and traditional foods that have been in Maine for centuries. Understanding where we come from is critical to envisioning where we are going.
Sprinkled through Maine Fare for everyone to enjoy were wooden easels framing printed photographs. The photographs were altered – drawn and written on to illustrate stories about people, places, ideas, and actions all related to building a more sustainable world. These words, in the Lexicon of Sustainability pop-up art show, give us a vocabulary for our future.
The final celebration of Maine Fare was the supreme taste of place – Oysters + Beer. Preceding the tasting, Sebastian Belle from Maine Aquaculture Association presented about the relationship between ecosystems and taste of oysters. Maine has so many microclimates that even oysters from different places along the Damariscotta River taste unique. Luckily Maine is also home to many microbreweries, the perfect pairing for oysters on summery Saturday evening. The tastings may have been the most popular events at Maine Fare, each selling out a week prior to the event, and for good reason: Maine is delicious.
So thank you for coming to celebrate with us! If you were at the waterfront for Maine Fare, you know this wasn’t even the full event! Maine Fare featured a top roster of presenters and guest chefs. We connected farm to table with grain grower Sam Mudge, chef, farmer, and sailor Ladleah Dunn, and Aube Giroux of Kitchen Vignettes. Portland-based businesses Lola’s Tacos and Tortillería Pachanga demonstrated how techniques from across cultures, like forming tortillas from freshly ground corn, could be combined with basic culinary knowledge to adapt strategies for cooking in the Maine environment, an activity that everyone—even kids—can do. Melissa Kelly of Primo explained the importance of butter in sauces and Paula Palakawong brought the audience on stage to shape fresh spring rolls a la Long Grain. We watched a variety of spring vegetables transform into pesto under the guidance of Salt Water Farm’s Annemarie Ahearn, tasted fresh Maine Scallops seared perfectly by Togue Brawn, and learned about cooking with clams from Rich Hanson of Cleonice. Throughout the two days, do-it-yourself class participants jumped into preparing food themselves, tasting mushroom varieties from Oyster Creek Mushroom Company and seaweed pasta with Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, making kimchi with Thirty Acre Farm, cheese with Kennebec Cheesery, and bringing home bread, sourdough starter from Jeff Dec, fresh crab cakes from Northwoods Gourmet Girl, and the knowledge to make more fine creations using Maine food at home. Our questions about the on-the-ground work in Maine’s food system were answered by presenters on topics such as Rural Revival, Food Access, and Land + Sea. We visited local farms where we got the nitty-gritty production details, grafted apple trees, and dug up the secrets of good compost. There was something for everyone to experience and take home.
We owe a special thank you to the sponsors of Maine Fare 2014. Without their generosity and commitment to Maine food, the event would not have been possible. Thank you, Point Lookout, Camden National Bank, Viking Lumber, Reny’s, TD Bank, Marshall Wharf Brewing Co, Katahdin Analytical Services, Cape Air, jetBlue, Front Street Shipyard, Bangor Savings Bank, SequelCare, Savage Oaks Winery, 2A Architects, Allagash Brewing Co, Androscoggin Title, Co, Atlantic Brewing Co, the Belfast Co-op, Bluestreak Broadband, Camden Printing, Casella Organics, Cayford Orchards, Eat More Cheese, Kennebec Cider, Jackeez.com, Let Them Eat Cake Bakery, Maine Conservation Alliance, Mook Sea Farm Oysters, Norumbega Oyster Farm, North Haven Oyster Co, Pemaquid Oyster Co, Revision Energy, Rising Tide Brewing, Seacoast Coffee Co, Sewall Organic Orchard, Smith’s Log Smokehouse, Sow’s Ear Winery, Stone Fox Farm Creamery, Strong Brewing Co, The Green Store, Tree Spirits, Urban Farm Fermentory, Waldo County General Hospital, Waldostone Farm, Whaleback Farm and our special Free Range Music Festival Concert sponsors Ramblers Way and WERU Community Radio. Thank you MPBN and Maine Magazine for being incredible media sponsors.
AND we owe a special thank you to YOU! For coming out and enjoying the festivities with us and for caring so deeply about the people, food, and community in this beautiful place.
Together, Penobscot East Resource Center and Maine Farmland Trust want to see our farmers, fishermen, and communities vibrant and sustainable. Maine Fare is the place to empower yourself with the knowledge to make it happen. Have fun! Meet your Farmers and Fishermen! Eat Maine food!
If you missed out, no worries, you can check out the pictures here.
If you attended, we would love your feedback! Please share it here.
The Firehouse Center in Damariscotta opened an exhibit of Joseph Fiore’s Rock Paintings last weekend that will be up all summer. The exhibit is a unique collaboration between the Falcon Foundation and Maine Farmland Trust. The paintings were gifted to Maine Farmland Trust with the purpose of re-gifting them to other environmental organizations in Maine.
Joseph A. Fiore (1925-2008), a critically acclaimed vanguard New York artist in the 1960’s, spent his summers in Jefferson, Maine. Fiore began as an abstract painter, moving through several transitions in his life as an artist. He studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina with Joseph Albers and Willem deKooning, and later taught there from 1949-1956. He also taught at the Philadelphia College of Art, the Maryland Institute of Design, the Parsons School of Design, and the Artists for Environment Foundation.
Maine Farmland Trust became involved with the work of Joseph Fiore almost five years ago. The Fiores had been generous supporters of the Trust during the artist’s lifetime, and after Joseph Fiore died in 2008, the Trust – which then had just started a gallery as part of its outreach – was offered several landscape paintings as a charitable gift. In subsequent years, this gift expanded to over forty original works of art, which are gradually being exhibited and sold by Maine Farmland Trust Gallery to raise money for farmland protection as well as the large collection of Geological Works to redistribute to organizations that appreciate Maine’s environment and geology.
The exhibit will be up until September 27th at the Firehouse Center for the Falcon Foundation in Damariscotta. The gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays 12 – 5 pm and by appointment. After a special closing reception, the paintings will be transferred to recipient organizations.
See pictures of the Opening on June 28th here.
We don’t always share values with our neighbors. But when we do, we form a bond that contributes to a larger intimation: community.
For all of us, community stems from connection with people and place. For farmers in particular, community often comes from a shared way of life, one that has existed in Maine for generations and is inextricably rooted in the land.
Two adjacent farms in the Carmel area understand the importance of sustaining that community. In 2012, worried about increasing development pressure, the MacDonalds of MacDonald Farm donated an easement to keep their 150 acres available for agriculture forever. And two years later, Fred and Sue Kircheis followed suit.
The Kircheis bought their farm, Treesqueak, in 1969, and are only the second owners since the farm was built in 1890. By farming the land, they are preserving the historical identity of the Carmel, Maine area—not keeping it locked in the past, but maintaining its agricultural viability for the future.
But that future viability could be disappearing. Fred and Sue have seen other nearby farms being sold and developed, and knew that the same thing could happen to their land after they were gone. Watching the MacDonalds go through the land protection process, and witnessing what it meant to the area, gave Fred and Sue an incentive to do the same thing for their farm. And on July 2, 2014, they closed on a donated easement on Treesqueak Farm.
Although Carmel itself might not seem to be in danger of becoming suburbia in the near future, the area is under serious development pressure because of its proximity to Bangor. Indeed, the amount of agricultural land in farms in Penobscot county has decreased from 37,965 to 25,844 acres between 2007 and 2012.
The commitment of these neighboring landowners has resulted in the protection of 237 acres of contiguous farmland in Carmel, which will, as Sue puts it, “be preserved in a useful way.” The couple is excited to talk to more farmers in the area about donating easements to protect an even larger area.
Each contribution makes a difference for the future of farming in Maine. And together, they create a community.
Listen to the podcast from Treesqueak Farm on the day of the easement closing: [powerpress]
Data from the USDA 2012 agricultural census.
A snippet of our recent work, from our Spring 2014 newsletter:
David Asmussen of Blue Bell Farm is the latest young farmer “digging in” in Bowdoinham, a community that has become a hub for next generation farmers. He and his wife Meredith recently purchased a 74-acre property, formally Dancing Cricket Farm, and have already begun farming. They could not have purchased the property without a range of services MFT offers—notably, the Beginning Farmer Program, Maine FarmLink, and MFT’s Purchased Easement Program.
Former landowner David Santillo found the property on FarmLink back in 2009. For Santillo, it seemed like the perfect setting for his educational nonprofit to take root. Santillo brought the fields back to production, built hoop houses, sold at farmers markets and ran a small CSA. But while Santillo had built a functional farm, he didn’t feel like he could farm the land to its full potential and decided to sell the property. He wanted to sell to enthusiastic farmers, and so he listed the farm on FarmLink.
About the same time, David Asmussen and his wife landed in Maine. While in graduate school in Vermont, Assmussen says they were always “on the lookout for land, but Vermont seemed saturated—everyone we met had a small farm.” They had been attending MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair for years, and “knew that there was a good agricultural community [in Maine] that [they] wanted to be a part of.” Soon after the couple arrived in Maine, Asmussen started working at a small farm in Cape Elizabeth and joined MOFGA’s Journeyperson program, a two-year educational mentorship program for beginning farmers.
In partnership with MOFGA, MFT provides services for Journey-farmers who are looking for land. Erica Buswell, who manages MFT’s Beginning Farmer Program, got to know Asmussen and the type of farm he was looking for. When Santillo listed Dancing Cricket on FarmLink, Buswell urged Asmussen to check it out. “It seemed like exactly the right fit,” said Buswell.
And it was… except that the price was out of Asmussen’s range. Luckily, two key factors lined up to make the deal work. The first factor was that MFT could lower cost of the property by buying an agricultural easement. In this case, MFT purchased the easement for about $40,000, which brought the price to a reasonable amount for Asmussen. As the incoming farmer, Asmussen could help craft the easement to suit his needs and accommodate his farming dreams.
The second key factor was the landowner’s flexibility and patience. As a biologist, Santillo felt that his property wasn’t just a farm, but part of the larger ecological community—so he embraced the idea of protecting the farm with an easement. Santillo didn’t need to sell quickly, and was willing to work with MFT and Assmussen on what became a longer, more complex deal.
Asmussen’s Blue Bell Farm is now in the middle of its first season in Bowdoinham. He is growing mixed vegetables and culinary herbs for area restaurants and wholesale accounts, and someday plans to build a roadside farm stand.
An intro to FarmLink from our Winter 2013 newsletter:
Land access is a particular challenge for beginning farmers. MFT’s FarmLink program helps farmland seekers connect with farmland owners, in an effort to facilitate affordable land transfer. To date, FarmLink has made 90 “links” throughout the state—many helping beginning farmers.
Successful links come in many different forms: sometimes a farmland seeker will buy land outright; sometimes the seeker and owner are more comfortable with a lease; and sometimes the owner and seeker forge an entirely unique arrangement.
Briis and Aaron arrived in Maine as interns at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, after years of working on small farms on the West Coast and in Europe. The move to Maine was calculated: they had friends here, and land prices seemed remotely affordable compared to the rest of the East Coast. The couple perused newspaper ads and Craigslist. They also heard about FarmLink, and prepared an application.
The couple assumed they would spend years saving money and searching for the right farm. But then they saw the listing on FarmLink of a property owned by Brian Kent and Janet Pence.
Brian came to Maine in 1974, settling on a rolling piece of wooded land in Litchfield, criss-crossed with old stone walls and streams. In the years that followed, Brian and Janet carved out a homestead for their family, growing much of their own food and raising chickens. It was never a commercial farm, but as the couple grew older, they realized they needed new energy to keep the land productive. They didn’t want to sell the land—at least not yet; rather, they wanted to continue living in their house and create a partnership with people who would carry it into the next generation.
Brian and Janet listed the property on FarmLink for two years, and had dozens of phone conversations with aspiring farmers who weren’t quite the right fit. When Aaron and Briis visited for the first time, both parties knew right away that it was a match. They all agreed on a trial year, and now, three years later, Briis and Aaron are building a house on the property, and Brian and Janet are thrilled to see their land coming to life.
It’s not a “typical” arrangement. There’s no formal lease, no written agreement, and no money exchange. More than anything, Brian and Janet want to stay on their property and see their legacy carried on. In Aaron and Briis, they’ve found their ideal insurance: people they trust to reinvest in the land, and to take care of them as they age. Still, sharing land has its challenges. “We all had to change a bit,” said Janet, “to loosen up and learn how to work with each other.” Open communication is key to the relationship, and weekly farm meetings ensure that everyone is aware of changes and plans.
Briis and Aaron are raising vegetables, chickens, and goats. They sell their eggs through a neighboring farm, and hope to one day start a small goat dairy and creamery.